In the upcoming Texas Public Libraries Annual Report, we expect to see fewer open hours, visits, programs, etc., from local libraries, as well as lower expenditures. With the pandemic shutting down libraries and local budgets decreasing, many are concerned about a loss of public library accreditation based on current rules.
At its fall meeting on November 9, 2020, the agency commission reviewed and passed an emergency rule relating to public emergencies. The new emergency rule, which is now in effect, allows TSLAC to waive one or more accreditation criteria if a library shows good cause, such as a pandemic, as to why it was unable to meet the criteria.
It will be important for the library to submit their 2020 Annual Report in advance of the April 30 due date if at all possible, and to offer detailed explanations, including dates and financial impact of the pandemic health crisis on its operation and community.
In addition to the emergency rule, which will be in effect for 120 days with the option for a 60-day extension, TSLAC has set in motion the process to formally adopt and incorporate this rule into the administrative rules for the minimum standards of public library accreditation, 13 TAC §1.71- §1.86. The text of the emergency and proposed rule is as follows,
§1.87. Emergency Waiver of Accreditation Criteria.
One or more accreditation criteria in this subchapter may be waived if a library shows good cause for failure to meet the criteria. For purposes of this subchapter, good cause means a public health emergency, including, but not limited to a pandemic or epidemic; a natural or man-made disaster, including, but not limited to a tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, explosion, or chemical spill; or other extraordinary hardship which is beyond the control of the library as determined by the agency.
The proposed rule will be published in the Texas Register for public comment in the coming weeks.
If your library falls into this category, we will work with you to resolve the situation. Look here for more information in the months to come.